Supt. Kara Triance has taken over as the new officer-in-charge of Kelowna Mounties.
The detachment, which covers from Lake Country to Peachland, is rife with internal issues.
Several current and former officers at the detachment face serious accusations, including assault, breach of trust and various sexual offences.
Days after a civil lawsuit was launched against an officer in June, RCMP suddenly announced that the officer-in-charge Supt. Brent Mundle was being transferred out, though they denied that it had anything to do with ongoing problems.
Triance, who has 20 years of policing experience, was hired as his replacement.
As the first woman in charge of the Kelowna detachment, Triance is inheriting a police force that has been heavily criticized for how it handled sexual assault victims over the years.
“Sexual assault investigations are really important in that we have to get it right every time, the first time,” Triance said.
“And our investigative standards need to be the highest level, which is why this detachment has created a four person sexual assault team that I will continue to invest in.”
Another concern within the Kelowna detachment are allegations that at least two Kelowna RCMP officers have sexted the victim of an assault case they were investigating.
Other officers are accused of assault and sexual assault.
Several lawsuits have been filed against the detachment in connection with the allegations.
Only five days into the job, Triance could not say how many officers are currently suspended.
“Part of what is going to happen in the next 30 days is a fulsome briefing of all of the issues of conduct that I need to be brought up to speed on,” she said.
Triance said she takes these issues seriously and processes must be followed, but she hopes to share more information moving forward.
“I’m up for the challenge of the new officer in charge of Kelowna RCMP detachment,” she said. “I will work tirelessly to ensure that we do a great job here.”
Triance said one of her top priorities will be building effective partnerships within the community to tackle challenges including homelessness, substance abuse, mental health and poverty.
The new commander will also be tasked with tackling the region’s rising crime rate.
Recently-released statistics suggest that Kelowna’s rate of opioid-related offences is 12 times the national average.
“I certainly don’t want to be hard on individuals with substance abuse and mental health issues,” Triance said. “As we know, the revolving door of a jail system is not going to solve those problems: that’s when we really need to be focusing that work on upstream collaborative approaches.”
“But if we’re talking about organized crime or criminals who are trafficking within our community, a hard approach on organized crime and a hard approach on drug trafficking is important,” she said.
The new commander said that she also wants to invest internally in employees to ensure they have enough coaching, mentorship and supervision to be able to do their job.
Triance, who has 20 years of policing experience, was also the first woman in charge of the Sea-to-Sky detachment.
“I hope that I can show women in law enforcement and young children in this community all of the possibilities for them,” Triance said. “I hope that they can look at women in positions of power and see that this is opportunities for themselves.”
Triance said she’s excited to return to her hometown.